bread loaf

Saint Paul Bread Club

We knead to bake!

Bread Baker Biography – Ron Miller (2/6/2005)

Who are you?

My name is Ron Miller.

How long have you been baking bread?

Over 20 years.

Who taught you how to bake bread?

I am self-taught.

When did you start baking bread at home?

Over 20 years ago.

What’s your favorite bread to bake?

I have two favorites. What I call my “wheat, wheat,” which uses several different types of wheat, i. e., whole wheat, unbleached wheat, wheat bran, and bulgur, and my wife’s favorite is caraway rye.

What bread do you make most often?

See above. I was making whole grain breads before it was the thing to do.

Where do you get your bread recipes?

Mostly I make them up. Sometimes I read a recipe that sounds interesting, or I may be asked to do something special, and I will check a book.

How do you mix your dough?

All by hand.

How do you proof your dough?

I do make a “poolish” or starter, usually the night before I bake.

How do you bake your bread?

I am not sure what you mean, but I mostly use a stone in an old electric oven.

What gives you the greatest satisfaction in baking bread?

Eating it, but the mixing is very therapeutic, and enjoyable.

What was the most difficult bread you ever made and was it worth the effort?

Bagels; oh, yeah, were they ever worth it.

What was the most unusual bread you ever made?

A bread from James Beard called a “Pruneau.”

What was the most unusual ingredient you ever used in making bread?

I have experimented with so many things I don’t know what would be the most unusual.

What was the simplest bread you ever made?

A whole wheat bread.

What’s your favorite brand and type of flour?

Dakota Maid Bread Flour and King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour.

What’s your favorite yeast?

I buy my yeast at the Coop in bulk. If I need a small amount when I am out of town, etc. I will buy Red Star or Fleischmann’s dry yeast.

Do you bake with sourdough?

Yes, I have in the past made my own sourdough starter, but I found if I don’t use it all the time it will go bad.

What kind of oven do you use? Do you use baking stones or water pans for steam?

I have an old (30+ year) GE electric double oven. Most of my breads are made on a stone, I do use pans occasionally, and it is usually for a specific effect. On occasion I have used water pans, but not regularly.

What’s your favorite tool for making bread?

A large ceramic bowl, a large spoon for mixing, measuring cups, scraper (plastic) and a peel to move the dough.

What kind of bread pans do have?

When I do use them it varies as to size and style. I have regular bread pans in different sizes and materials, I will use baguette pans for French/Italian.

What shape loaves do you make?

Mostly round, some braided.

What’s the biggest batch of bread that you have made at home?

Four very large loaves, in 2 ovens.

Do you bake bread year round?

Yes, nearly every Saturday I am at home.

If you buy bread, where do you buy it?

Breadsmith or Great Harvest.

What’s your favorite bread book?

The Sunset Cook Book of Bread.

What is the bread book you would recommend to beginners?

The Sunset bread book.

How did you find out about the Bread Club?

A couple of years ago, I think it was 2003, I was heading for the breads in the Creative Activities Building when I saw a display of breads. Unfortunately, I missed the demonstration, but I did talk with the person behind the counter. He introduced himself as Klecko and asked me if I baked bread. I told him yes, and he asked me if I would be interested in a bread club. He described his idea of the bread club and I told him I thought it would be interesting. I went to my first meeting and have only missed 2 meetings since, both in July when I am out of town at “The Lake.”

What was your first Bread Club meeting?

It was upstairs of the Mississippi Market on Selby and Dale.

What do you like about the Bread Club?

The common interest in bread by most of the participants, and the camaraderie.

What have you learned from the Bread Club?

Different recipes, and the different types of dough that are available. I don’t normally make white bread, but have found that there are some types that interest me, this was brought out by the club.